Essay On Identity Management

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February 2009I finally realized today why politics and religion yield such uniquely useless discussions.

As a rule, any mention of religion on an online forum degenerates into a religious argument. Why does this happen with religion and not with Javascript or baking or other topics people talk about on forums?

But the more precise political questions suffer the same fate as the vaguer ones.

I think what religion and politics have in common is that they become part of people's identity, and people can never have a fruitful argument about something that's part of their identity. Which topics engage people's identity depends on the people, not the topic.

A scientist isn't committed to believing in natural selection in the same way a bibilical literalist is committed to rejecting it.

All he's committed to is following the evidence wherever it leads.

One possible explanation is that they deal with questions that have no definite answers, so there's no back pressure on people's opinions.

Since no one can be proven wrong, every opinion is equally valid, and sensing this, everyone lets fly with theirs. There are certainly some political questions that have definite answers, like how much a new government policy will cost.

Compiled by Diana Batchelor "All conflicts are identity conflicts..." -- John Paul Lederach, Conflict Transformation Class, 2005 The definition of the word identity varies according to who is using it and why they are using it.

In many fields, identity differences are seen to be a root cause of conflict.


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